I am sure everyone in Louisiana has a Popeyes story. Mine involves what is now the last Popeyes buffet in the world. It is right here in Lafayette, La.
My PawPaw loved the buffet and insisted on going whenever he would visit. To understand why you need a little back story on my PawPaw. He was the cheapest man I have ever known. Every can in their house was a mystery wrapped in a dented metal jacket. If he found a good price on a whole pallet of expired corn flakes or expired butterscotch icing that became our mid-afternoon snacks all summer. I could go on with examples of the extreme thriftiness my grandparents aspired too but this isn't a novel and I would need a whole chapter labeled "Weird Shit My Grandparents did."
I heard the distinct sound of PawPaw's dually truck headed down our road. This could only mean one thing. I was spending my day making dents in K&B ice cream containers and having Popeyes for lunch. I ran outside to meet him. He was standing by his giant truck holding a Dr. Pepper can and a giant wad of Red Man Chew in his lip. One day I'll tell you why any girl who grew up in Rural South Louisiana knows to check a can before she takes a sip from it - you only make that mistake once. He lifts me up into the cab of the truck and off we went.
I loved that crazy, big, truck. It always smelled of chewing tobacco and cattle. I also couldn't mess it up. Unlike so many trucks now it wasn't for show. It was a farm truck. It was for work. It was covered in dust and had every tool known to man in every nook and cranny. My PawPaw barreled through town like a man on a mission - a chicken mission. We arrived at Popeyes. We sit, and we eat, and everything seems normal until he decides he wants some more, to go. I was surprised they agreed, but he could be really charming when he wanted. He got those ladies with that Clark Gable mustache and a little wink of the eye. It was always weird for me to see his two sides. On the farm, he wore work clothes and was always busy. Then special days he would dress up and this olive-skinned, charming, Cajun bad boy would emerge. With a little canaille twinkle in his eye, the ladies couldn't resist his charms.
He headed to the buffet with his to-go box, and I watched in awe as he just started piling everything on. Fried chicken, baked chicken, chicken livers, green beans, mac n' cheese, dirty rice, mashed potatoes, apple pie.... if it was on that buffet it was going in that box. Both sides y'all, he filled both sides! A lady walks up to him and says, "the rule is it has to close, or you have to pay for another buffet." Without a beat, my PawPaw closes the massively overfilled container. It was like some sort of gory horror film but with Southern food. The food started oozing out the sides - apple pie mixed with green beans covered in a sheen of mashed potatoes dropping to the floor. Chicken wings poking out the sides that look like they are asking to be saved from drowning in the pit of brown gravy. I remember the lady looking on in horror. As she went to say something to him, I shake my head "NO" and mouth "Don't do it! I'll pay for it." My Pawpaw stood there waiting to win this battle of cheapest man alive; she backed away. I think she knew this wasn't worth it and even felt a little pity for me. We were gently asked to exit the building, and with that my PawPaw turned on his heels, his head held high with pride and walked out of there leaving a trail of Popeyes buffet tears behind us.
The buffet is not the same anymore, and my PawPaw has passed away. Luckily I get to drive by the last Popeyes buffet and remember my PawPaw and know my knack for getting asked to leave places is not my fault; it just runs in the family.
I love making my own biscuits, but like any good Louisiana girl, I have a special place in my heart for Popeyes biscuits. While prepping New Year's day supper, we got some Popeyes to snack on till the "Good Luck" Cabbage Rolls were ready. Out of a dozen or so biscuits, some were left behind, and I just couldn’t bear to throw them away. What to do with cold and hard biscuits? Why couldn’t I do the same thing I do with stale french bread? It was bread pudding time! Or I guess biscuit pudding time. Even the bread pudding haters perked up when they heard Popeyes biscuits were the main ingredient. You don’t have to use Popeyes biscuits. I am sure other biscuits will do, but really with Popeyes, you get the bonus of a fried chicken snack (this may be the reason my kids describe me as squishy). This recipe is so easy and so good. Let's just not think about the calories. You're helping prevent food waste, and that’s important. Take a bite of your bread pudding and know you did something good today.